Monday, September 26, 2016

a day with Melissa

I spent the day with Melissa Averinos on Wednesday. She was in Portland to lecture and teach for Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and stayed a few extra days to soak in our amazing city.

First order of business was donuts. We went to Blue Star, got half a dozen donuts and ate them all! I got chocolate ganache all over my face, but was able to get reasonably cleaned up before going to the quilt show.

The annual Northwest Quilting Expo at the Portland Expo Center was another great show. There was something for everyone!

Best of Show winner, "Extraneous Female EscapementMechanism"
by Rebecca "Becky" Price, Henderson, TX
1830s chintz star quilt, collection of Latimer Quilt & Textile Center
"Keep Portland Weird" by Barbara Sanders
After the show we went to my place to have one last donut, see some old quilts and meet Lulu, my crazy, talking feral rescue cat. Lulu often hides under the bed when new people come to visit, but she came right out to greet Melissa. Cat whisperers, we are.

Melissa brought gifts. One of my favorites was a fabric swatch printed through Spoonflower, with one of her amusing drawings.

Being around Melissa inspired me. She's written a pile of books and works in a wide variety of media, including music. She teaches a "Making Cat Faces" class, and I thought it would be fun to make a Lulu cat face.

I was just returning from a week-long visit to Maine and New Jersey, and sadly missed her class, but asked a couple simple questions about how the cat faces were made. It was something like this:


"No, glue stick."

"Quilt it down?"


There were a few other details, such as possible methods of quilting, but the technical information was only a small part of what I needed. It's been a dry year, creatively. I haven't made a thing, except maybe dinner. Being around Melissa made me want to make more things.

Of course, I'm always a little unsure about making a quilt since I'm highly unqualified in sewing. Melissa even asked if I wanted her to make me one. I would love that, but also thought I could do it. She helped me believe I could do it.

I went straight home after dropping her off, pulled out some of my Spoonflower fabrics and made a Lulu cat face quilt. Finally, I'd thought of something fun to do with my Green Alien Space Baby fabric!

The quilt is inspired by Lulu, and a photo I took of her when she sniffed something funny. Cats make this funny face when they sniff something interesting. Poor Lulu, such an unflattering pose! She really is a beautiful kitty. Many thanks to Melissa for the inspiration!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

velvet & the little red house

There's something about velvet, the way it catches the light. I love velvet quilts and often wonder about the makers. The quilts have such character.

velvet crazy quilt top, c. 1900, Ohio, 78" x 88"
This velvet crazy quilt top came from an eBay seller in Holmesville, Ohio. There was no information about its origins, but it was so intriguing to see a single red house at the center of organized chaos. The little house stands out against the mostly dark velvet.

During the year I picked up a few other velvet quilts, all head turners, in my opinion. Here they are


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

some new things

polyester string quilt, Chicago, Illinois, c. 1970, 62" x 74"

Hello, blog readers! It's been a while. Kind of a crazy year. Not as much collecting as previous years, but a few new things trickled in recently. I'm starting to get a little more particular, with more than 400 quilts in the collection, 150 of them from the 1970s.

polyester strip quilt, Houston, Texas, c. 1970, 67" x 89"
Two of the new arrivals are polyester. One is from Houston and the other is from Chicago. Both quilts are exceptionally vibrant, a hallmark of the fade-resistant polyester quilts of the period.

rainbow quilt, Cincinnati, Ohio, c. 1975, 87" x 107"
The third one is a tied rainbow quilt made of seven different gingham fabrics: purple, dark blue, light blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Light blue gingham always reminds me of Dorothy Gale, but this quilt is really somewhere over the rainbow.

I use Blurb BookSmart to self-publish catalogues of quilts
Sometimes it's hard to keep track of all these quilts, so I am putting together a catalogue with images and basic information about each quilt: pattern name, maker's name and location of origin if known, materials, dimensions and circa date.

The book will be for internal use only, so I will not be offering it for sale. I make a lot of these books documenting my collection, but many are never offered for sale. They are very helpful, though. It's great to be able to pull a book off the shelf and look up information whenever I need it. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

quiltmakers, originality, inspiration and tradition

three original quilts, connected by inspiration and tradition
I love it when yesterday's quilts inspire today's quiltmakers. Earlier this year, I enjoyed pictures of a Double Wedding Ring quilt made by Tara Faughnan of Oakland, California. The quilt was a prizewinner in the Handwork category of QuiltCon 2016.

Tara Faughnan's prizewinning Double Wedding Ring quilt
photo: Tara Faughnan
I recognized the inspiration right away, and it made me happy. It was a pair of vibrant, vintage 1970s quilts made of polyester double knit.

1970s polyester quilt, collection of Roderick Kiracofe
photo: The Quilt Complex
One of the quilts was in the collection of Roderick Kiracofe, and the other was part of my collection. Both quilts came from an estate sale in Altadena, California, and both came to the quilt market through The Quilt Complex.

1970s polyester quilt, the Volckening Collection
Faughnan's quilt was a beautiful tribute, an eloquent study inspired by the two vintage quilts. Her quilt was the most visually well-balanced of the three, and she made thoughtful, effective choices in updating and resolving the design. It was today's quilt, made with yesterday's inspiration.

the vintage block was one large unit with a solid square anchoring the center
Faughnan used four smaller units with a four-patch connecting the center
Double Wedding Ring is a traditional design shared by thousands of quiltmakers for almost a century, but if the same pattern was given to 100 quiltmakers, the result would be 100 different quilts. That's the thing about quiltmaking. Inspiration is traditionally shared, but individual makers are always deeply present in their quilts.

Like many other aspects of quiltmaking, originality is often subtle, but it is there if you look closely enough. By putting their own spin on things, quiltmakers show what makes them unique. Thank you to Tara Faughnan and all quiltmakers who would never make the exact same quilt as the next maker.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Upcoming Exhibition

Some news from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

July 28 through October 25, 2016
Opening reception 5 - 8:00 pm, Friday August 5 
Monday through Saturday 10-5 pm; Sunday 11-5 pm

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
1213 Washington Avenue
Golden, CO  80401
Contact Karen Roxburgh, Executive Director

“New York Beauty quilts are rare – hard to find and harder to make,” says collector Bill Volckening. “They are highly prized and representative of America’s finest patchwork. Over the years, the pattern has been known by a number of names, including Rocky Mountain Road and Rail Through the Rockies.  For this exhibit, Volckening selected an array of quilts which spans a century and a half and demonstrates the enduring popularity of this historic pattern.  New York Beauty quilts are very rare and RMQM is excited to host this beautiful collection.

New York Beauty: Quilts from the Volckening Collection, a book by Volckening is available at the RMQM Gift Shop and provides more insight into this collection.

Rocky Mountain Road is sponsored in part by QUILTmania.